Grey day this one. Looking at my exercise monitor have walked about five miles already. Not bad for my age.
Funny thing is that as a university student I would have walked probably twice this distance each day. Back then I did not have the luxury of a cellphone to talk to someone about this and that as I trod across campus. The Walkman and its progeny the MP3 player and then the iPod were years in the future. What I got was my thoughts and the ambient sounds of traffic and pedestrians and clarion bells peeling the fifteen-minute quadrants of the daylight hours.
When I walked for twenty to twenty-five minutes five or six times a day my mind stayed focused. When is my next exam? So was that “We’ll see” from her more of a yes than a no about the John Hartford concert at the Kiva tomorrow. I need to pick up a pack of cigarettes. If I swing by the library will I get back to the cafeteria in time to get some of the first-choice entrée at dinner tonight.
Yes, most of my thoughts were run of the mill and mundane. Still, I thought about them each individually and in some detail. Without the constant stream of external noise from podcasts and people needed to/wanting to talk on the phone I could unpack all the baggage around a single idea. I could weigh and balance with some time to do it with justice, the things I was facing.
But there were moments. Like the time that I got riotously involved in the classroom discussion about defining oneself to different people. I mean one day your communication professor told me that it was okay to present different views of myself to different people and that everybody did it. The variation in my presentation was simply a matter of degree. How liberating as I thought about the implications of that. More importantly I though about it from all sorts of angles.
Or maybe I had read an article about living in daylight rooms. The author urging us to clear out our minds of the resentments from the day past and live each day with openness and awareness of what I would be letting into your life. Some self-help groups have concepts like that but to hear it from someone credentialed in a magazine I trusted, well that was something else. Without the tiny little computer, we call a phone, that is in virtually everyone’s hand I had to think about it and then I had to talk about it around the dinner meal.
Now I have headphones when I walk, but half the time I leave them off. Half the time I just focus on the things of the heart and the things of the mind. I am worried that we now have a generation wired to the ephemeral, tethered to the right now of gossip, pun making, and punditry as opposed to the be here, be now mantra of various faiths. How will they ever learn to think critically.
Life is change. I hope the next evolutionary cycle brings up back to giving ourselves time for reflection and thought. Life is walking in silence and thinking.